Îles du Salut (French Guiana)

Île du Diable from Legoff Bay, en la Île Royale - CC Nicholas Laughlin

Île du Diable from Legoff Bay, en la Île Royale – CC Nicholas Laughlin

Îles du Salut weighs a black legend, as many years ago the islands were a terrible French penal colony. Located on the coast of Guiana, they are formed by the Île du Diable, the Île Royale and the Île Saint-Joseph. The Île du Diable, which is the smallest of the three, was used exclusively to confine potilical prisoners, while the other two islands were reserved for prisoners who had disciplinary problems in the continent.

Confinement cells in the Île Saint-Joseph - CC Nicholas Laughlin

Confinement cells in the Île Saint-Joseph – CC Nicholas Laughlin

Ruins of the solitary confinement cells in the Île de Saint-Joseph - CC Nicholas Laughlin

Ruins of the solitary confinement cells in the Île de Saint-Joseph – CC Nicholas Laughlin

Mural in the church of the jail of the Île Royale - CC Nicholas Laughlin

Mural in the church of the jail of the Île Royale – CC Nicholas Laughlin

Established in 1852, the conditions of the penal colony in their early years were really painful. The presence of the yellow fever and others diseases such as malaria caused the death of hundred of prisoners, and the mortality arrived to 63%.

Solitary confinement cells in the Île Royale - CC Nicholas Laughlin

Solitary confinement cells in the Île Royale – CC Nicholas Laughlin

Île Royale - CC Tom Bradnock

Île Royale – CC Tom Bradnock

Inmortalized in the book and movie “Papillon” or in the more accurate “La guillotine sèche” (Dry Guillotine), the French Guiana was home to thousands of prisoners who never made the journey back to France. What diseases didn’t make were done by the living conditions: stone cells, meager rations, forced labor and solitary confinement, besides torture and corporal punishment.

Îles du Salut ceased to function as penal settlement in 1953. Today it is a tourist destination visited by thousands of people every year. They belong to the European Space Center, which is based on the mainland, 24 km. from the islands.

Caves in the Île du Diable - it is said that Black Bart Roberts hide its treasure here - CC Matt Montagne

Caves in the Île du Diable – it is said that Black Bart Roberts hide its treasure here – CC Matt Montagne

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